Hoarseness & Voice Disorders

Southern ENT Associates -  - Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor

Southern ENT Associates

Ear, Nose & Throat Doctors located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia and Opelousas, LA

About one in 25 adults develops a swallowing problem every year. About 3-9% of the general population seek treatment for a voice disorder, but the experts believe many more people develop voice changes, yet don’t get medical care. The team of experienced physicians at Southern ENT Associates are experts in getting to the underlying cause of voice and throat disorders and developing a customized treatment for each patient. If you experience throat problems, call one of the six office locations in South Louisiana that’s most convenient for you, or book an appointment online.

Hoarseness & Voice Disorders Q & A

What are Voice and Throat Disorders?

Throat disorders primarily include two types of problems, voice disorders, and swallowing disorders:

  1. Voice Disorders: Your vocal cords are two folds of tissue in your larynx (voice box). When you breathe, your vocal cords stay open; when you speak or sing, they come together. As air flows over the closed vocal cords, they vibrate to produce sound. The quality of your voice changes when a problem affects the way your vocal cords vibrate. When that happens, you have a voice disorder.
  2. Swallowing Disorders: Difficulty swallowing, which is called dysphagia, occurs when it’s hard to move food or liquid from your mouth into your stomach. Proper swallowing involves multiple steps:
  • Chewing your food
  • Using your tongue to move food to the back of your mouth
  • Muscles open at the back of your throat, so food goes into the esophagus
  • Muscle contractions propel food down your esophagus
  • Muscles open at the bottom of your esophagus to let food into your stomach


Problems can occur at any step of the process that can make it hard to swallow.

What Causes Hoarseness?

Hoarseness is the generic term used to describe the changes that occur when you have a voice disorder. Your voice may sound breathy, raspy, softer, or lower pitched, for example.

You can become hoarse due to inflammation and irritation that arise from many causes, such as:

  • Acute laryngitis
  • Vocal cord nodules
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Smoking
  • Allergies


A few other common reasons include aging, thyroid problems, and neurological problems.

What Causes Swallowing Disorders?

A swallowing problem may be temporary when it’s from a sore throat or poorly fitting dentures. Persistent swallowing difficulties, however, arise from a variety of underlying issues, such as:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Neurological disorders
  • Paralyzed vocal cords
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Muscle spasm or weakness
  • A narrowed or blocked esophagus
  • Stroke


Although dysphagia can develop at any age, it’s more common in older adults. Over time, muscle weakness may grow, and you have a higher risk of progressive neurological disorders that affect swallowing, such as Parkinson’s disease.

How are Voice and Swallowing Disorders Treated?

Your treatment depends on the underlying cause of your throat problem. Voice disorder treatment may incorporate voice training, surgery to remove polyps, smoking cessation, and medications to thin mucus.

Swallowing disorders are often treated with medications, swallowing therapy, and in some cases, surgery.

If you have any trouble with your voice or swallowing, call Southern ENT Associates or book an appointment online.